What do I need to do during a power outage?

Relax. While some natural gas generators can be installed with a manual switch, nearly all generators utilize a transfer switch that automatically starts the generator within seconds of sensing a power outage. Once electric power is restored, the generator shuts down allowing service to flow from the electric utility. This feature is very convenient because you don’t have to lift a finger. Regardless of the time of day, weather conditions outside or whether you are home or away, your generator is automatically delivering power in the event of an outage. And just to make sure they work when you need them, natural gas generators automatically test themselves each week.

After installation, ask your dealer to ensure that your generator can support you during an extended power outage by running a full load test for a minimum of one hour following final installation.

What is the difference between an automatic air-cooled generator and an automatic liquid-cooled generator?

The engines: Air-cooled generators come with engines that use fans to force air across the engine for cooling, while liquid-cooled generators use enclosed radiator systems for cooling, similar to an automobile. Generally, liquid-cooled engines are used on larger KW generators due to the larger engines required for the higher power output.

How long can I expect an automatic standby generator to last?

With typical usage and proper maintenance, an automatic standby generator will operate 1,500 to 3,000 hours providing years of reliable service.

Do they have to be maintained?

Yes, simple maintenance is required. All generators require periodic oil and filter changes to ensure maximum performance for years of reliable service. Preventative maintenance kits are available and participating dealers offer annual maintenance contracts for a worry-free ownership experience. Refer to the owner's manual for routine maintenance procedures and schedules.

One of the additional features that many generator owners find beneficial is a remote monitoring system. These systems monitor and diagnosis generator maintenance issues and alerts you and your dealer so steps can be taken now to ensure proper operation when you need the generator the most.

How much does a generator cost to install?

An obvious question and a difficult one to answer. Costs can vary widely because of the many factors involved in the generator purchase and installation process. Start by asking yourself these questions about your business and its specific needs:

  • What are the site’s power needs? Do we want to back up a few essential circuits or the whole site?
  • Where would we want to place the generator? Is it close to the gas and electric meter?
  • Are permits required?

Cost is an important consideration. However the one question that might matter most is what value do you place on the security, comfort and peace of mind that comes from 24/7 control over electric outages, especially longer duration outages associated with the severe weather in our Gulf Coast area?

Can I get a quote over the phone from a participating dealer?

Because each generator installation is somewhat unique, it's difficult to determine actual costs without a site visit by a participating dealer and a CenterPoint Energy representative. We recommended you complete the registration form to have our participating dealers contact you and arrange a FREE onsite visit to determine the actual generator installation cost. You can also call (713) 20POWER to contact a participating dealer.

Will our business need a permit to install the generator?

If your property is within the city limits, you will likely require certain permits and inspections as part of the installation process. Your participating dealer will secure all necessary permits for you.

Will CenterPoint Energy install our generator?

No. CenterPoint Energy only provides the reliable supply of natural gas that fuels your generator. The participating dealers handle the turnkey installation from initial site visit to final testing of the unit. To ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction, we require that participating dealers meet stringent eligibility standards to join the program.

Our location already has a natural gas meter, what else do we need from CenterPoint Energy before a generator can be installed?

Generators require a steady supply of natural gas at a specific pressure to operate properly. In some cases, this might require an upgrade of your existing meter to serve your generator and other natural gas end-uses or an additional service line and meter. Your participating dealer will make this assessment along with the assistance of a trained CenterPoint Energy representative, if necessary.

The dealer will review your desired generator location, gauge its proximity to your natural gas and electric services, review local permitting and code requirements and calculate the costs. If CenterPoint Energy installs an additional natural gas service line and meter, each month you will receive a separate bill for your second meter.

Another important advantage to working with a professionally trained participating dealer and a CenterPoint Energy service representative is that you can be assured of adequate pressure to operate your generator. Only a CenterPoint Energy service representative is familiar with the local gas distribution system and can determine if pressure in the main lines is sufficient.

Do we need approvals for the generator installation and transfer switch from CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric?

Yes. For your safety and that of CenterPoint Energy line crews, part of the process for connecting all the wiring is the approval of the transfer switch and the temporary disconnection and subsequent re-connection of electric service delivered by CenterPoint Energy. Your dealer can assist with this process by submitting the transfer switch one-line for approval and by contacting your Retail Electric Provider and CenterPoint Energy to perform the disconnection/reconnection. For more details on the process, please click here.